Women in Tech: “The best thing it bring able to find a creative solution”
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet May Goldstein, Senior Infrastructure Consultant at Red Hat.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Three years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet May Goldstein, Senior Infrastructure Consultant at Red Hat.
Today’s Woman in Tech: May Goldstein, Senior Infrastructure Consultant at Red Hat.
May completed her studies in computer science at Ben-Gurion University in 2006. During her studies, she worked for SAP. Instead of becoming a database animator there as planned, she ended up in the infrastructure department of a large service company. Here she found her great passion in the form of Unix, Linux and application servers. Thus, the path to her current employer, Red Hat, was virtually mapped out. May has been working for the open source software manufacturer since 2015. She has been a Senior Infrastructure Consultant there since 2018.
When did you become interested in technology?
My interest in technology began very early on. My father was a mainframe engineer. At home, there were always old, discarded Ethernet and power cables lying around that I was allowed to play with as a child.
We had an IBM computer and a Commodore PC. By the age of ten, I could tell the difference between the two and knew which socket belonged to which cable. Since I was already a computer freak as a teenager, I somehow “grew into” the IT industry. My whole childhood and teenage years were accompanied by a fascination for technology. With one small detour: When I was in my early 20s, I created electronic music with the Cubase sequencer. It was a lot of fun for me at that time – at the same time I knew: I wouldn’t make a career with it.
Do you have a role model?
Yes, my parents have always supported me, even though my father initially assumed that I would get bored in IT with my open and communicative character and would therefore be better off in the marketing area. Today I know that to be a good consultant, you have to have exactly these interpersonal skills. After all, a large part of my work consists of communicating with people.
What experiences with clichés or prejudices have you had?
I’ve never really had any obstacles put in my way. But as a woman, you do get the odd surprise or two. I remember one situation in particular: the IT manager of a client who booked me as a consultant didn’t want me. The reason: As a woman, I would disturb the concentration within the purely male team.
From my further experiences, I can only say the following: I am more of an extroverted personality. That has overtaxed some managers. As a consequence, they did not support me in my professional development in the way I would have liked.
The more clients I serve, the better I understand my role.
A day in May’s life
My work in the IT industry is simply fascinating. In the last five years, I have travelled all over Europe – mainly Germany – and worked with many different companies from which I was always able to learn something new. Because every company has a unique architecture and infrastructure, the work is never the same. The more clients I serve, the better I understand my role.
Even though my job is by definition a consulting job, in reality I often cover several roles. I am a project manager, architect, and consultant in one person. The best thing is being able to find a creative solution together with the client, which he will enjoy for a long time. As a problem solver, I am then proud every time I prevent a showstopper incident from taking longer than necessary. Even if it happens in silence. Working in complex and sometimes large-scale projects also means challenging yourself anew every day. That keeps the adrenalin level high, I definitely never get bored.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
First of all, I think there are many reasons why there are so few women in the tech industry. One of them, for example, is the common opinion that the tech industry is demanding, involves long working hours and also a certain amount of stress. Women see this as an incompatibility between family and career, as they still do most of the care work.
If more women – although I would not reduce the discussion to the female gender alone – were to work in the IT industry, this would automatically lead to more diversity. This in turn makes a company more attractive as a brand to potential candidates. We have a glaring shortage of skilled workers in technical professions, and companies compete for a small number of applicants for a position. Today’s talents expect more from their employers than previous generations. For them, soft factors have long been more important than the purely financial aspects. Companies that do not invest in these values will not attract these candidates.
The discussion on diversity is gathering momentum. How long will it be before we see the results of the current debate?
Education is also very important and nowadays there are many free tools for it.
I would like to believe that the diversity debate in the IT industry is already in full swing. Even if some things have changed: In the past, technology companies were only known to those who were also involved in the issue. This is different today: companies like Red Hat, Google or Facebook are considered hip and attractive employers and therefore attract diverse personalities.
What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?
When it comes to passion for technology, gender is completely irrelevant. If women are interested in and fascinated by technology, they should just get started. The next point is to be yourself. Just because you are a woman, doesn’t mean you have to prove yourself twice.
Education is also very important and nowadays there are many free tools for it. If you have found your tech topic and always keep up to date, you are automatically good at it. At the same time it is important to gain experience, because nobody is born as a star developer. Women should also never let any traditions or alleged norms stop them from going their way. And last but not least: sometimes a bigger case helps. Don’t take prejudices and hurtful comments personally, go your own way!
More Women in Tech:
- Women in Tech: “Dare to do what you are interested in!”
- Women in Tech: “Join meetups and other women tech groups”
- Women in Tech: “The IT sector requires a lot of energy and will”
- Women in Tech: “I got to be a self-taught, self-managed, problem solver”
- Women in Tech: “Don’t let irrational advice keep you from tech!”